Simple Hacks To Make Your House Less Messy

Recently, while staying with a friend in Sydney, she placed her succulent lovingly in my hands and said with a touch of panic, ‘What is wrong with it?’

Apparently, I have become the plant whisperer in my social circle. If you’re curious, it needed less water, more sunlight and a new pot to call home. I don’t know how I came to be this person (I mean – the other day I recommended a mop!) because as a kid, my room literally looked like something out of Hoarders.

Once a friend showed their mum my room on a play date to make themselves look good. It was dire. But fast forward ten years and I’m giving plant advice and recommending mops because I found something that worked. A few sure-fire techniques that makes my place look good while maintaining minimal effort on my part.

No more Hoarders for me.

#1 Give as much consideration to roommates as you would to purchasing a car

When I told my partner I was writing this, he asked me whether I was going to recommend readers move in with him. Which, okay, pretty solid burn to my ego but he has a point: choose your roommates and potential partners wisely. You want someone who knows their way around a vacuum and won’t leave a plate with a congealing substance in the sink for days.

This is less about getting someone else to do housework for you and more about living with people who pull their weight. There’s a reason why ‘Man Stabs Roommate with Scissors over Chores’ is a real news story.

#2 Plants trick people into thinking you understand adult things like insurance premiums

My plants are my friends and like all of my friends, they are robust and adept at self-care. I’d recommend ivy, anything from the aloe vera family or a cactus for the plant parent who forgets to water. Another option is self-watering pots or spikes that disperse water when the soil becomes dry. They’re cheap and easy to come by, and you can get away with filling them up once or twice a month.

But why plants you may ask? Well besides being a cheaper alternative to framed photos or other decorative household items, NASA has found they purify our air. Plants in the home combat pollutants like cleaning chemicals, mold or bacteria that harm our air quality. In their study, NASA found that English Ivy for example removed 9,653 micrograms of formaldehyde in a period of 24 hours.

Also, plants are pretty cute.

 #3 Do errands as you move about the house

This is the most basic tip but it has a warm place in my heart as it has rewarded my love of snacks with a cleaner house. When you move around the house, clean on the fly. Going to the kitchen to get ice cream? Take that mug with cold coffee dregs swimming in the bottom with you. Waiting for the pasta to boil? Wipe down your surfaces or fill your sink up with soapy water so you can put the dishes in it straight away. It doesn’t take a genius but once you build these tiny habits, you can feel the accumulative effect of less work.


#4 Remember that whatever you bring into your home, you will have to clean

File this one under ‘Marie Kondo’. Logic says that owning less stuff means you have to clean less (this is why I live in a small house). Be mindful of what you buy. If you have a serious shopping habit remember that the more clothes you pile into that wardrobe, the more time you’ll have to spend finding a way to pack them all in.

The same is true of the groceries you take home. If you pile your bananas in a plastic bag instead of relying on their natural wrapping or you choose the pasta that is wrapped in plastic then placed in a box, you’re going to have a lot more rubbish to sort through. Save yourself the trouble (and the inevitable game of housemate bin jenga).

#5 Smoke and mirrors

No, don’t literally fill your house with mirrors and buy a smoke machine. Give your place the ‘illusion’ of being tidy. Keep surfaces clear, even this means your cabinets are cluttered on the inside. Burn a candle in the front room so when people enter the house, the first thing they see is a glowing orb of good smells. Buy an ottoman because only real adults own an ottoman. These small details help hide that you’ve run out of clean socks.

But at the end of the day, the most important thing is not to stress too much. As Sarah Millican says, ‘I find apologising for not having cleaned is easier than cleaning’.

Katerina Bryant is a writer and editor based in Adelaide. Her work has appeared in the Griffith Review, Going Down Swinging and the Meanjin Blog, amongst others. She tweets at @katerina_bry.